Blog Overview

Accelerating the Path to Industrialization

Author: Stefan Kyora,

The path from cleantech innovations to the market usually involves setting up industrial production - a complex task. At the Demo Day of the Switzerland Innovation Tech4Impact initiative, the six winners of the first edition showed how the program has pushed them forward along their challenging way.

Circular economy, energy recovery and resource efficiency – these and other fundamental economic, environmental and societal topics from the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were the starting point for Switzerland Innovation’s first call for proposals. On the Tech4Impact Demo Day, the six selected projects from the first round were presented to a public audience for the first time.

The topics addressed by the award-winning projects range from reducing water consumption to renewable heat generation and the improved usability of electronic waste. Each team was allocated a CHF 85,000 grant.

Naturloop provides a good example of the progress made in setting up industrial production. The start-up develops technology to transform agricultural by-products into bio-composites. Its Cocoboard is an all-natural panel made of coconut husk and bio-based adhesive which will be produced locally. Cocoboard is a sustainable alternative to particleboard and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF). The approach restricts deforestation and boosts local production of sustainable products. The production will be initiated in the Philippines.

During the Tech4Impact program the team has defined the technical specifications for the production of Cocoboard and identified the most suitable machinery. “Everything has been put together in a production flow chart and now we are running several industrial-scale trials with machinery suppliers to validate this concept”, explains CTO and Cofounder Michail Kyriazopoulos. Naturloops partner, the Swiss Smart Factory at Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne, has developed an IoT system to provide real-time monitoring data from the production site and transfer data to a cloud storage. “The “smart” operation technologies allow us to provide real-time monitoring data from the production site. Thus, enabling us to have a better product quality, lower production costs, and monitor our production in the Philippines directly from our computer in Switzerland”, comments Michail Kyriazopoulos.

“We are incredibly proud of the results achieved by the six selected projects this year,” says Raymond Cron, CEO of Switzerland Innovation. “All of them have taken a big step forward.” In fact, all the projects have made progress towards market entry.

Second call for proposals

The second call for proposals for Switzerland Innovation Tech4Impact started on May 25, 2021. The Switzerland Innovation Tech4Impact initiative aims to help pioneering innovation projects achieve a breakthrough by addressing one of the six highlighted UN Sustainable Development Goals. To qualify for a grant, the proposed project must be based on an advanced technology that will reach maturity and application within the next three years. The initiative will award five to seven selected projects with a one-year project grant of up to CHF 85,000 each.

The program is open to project teams from Swiss universities, research institutions and universities of applied sciences, and also to start-ups or SMEs with an innovation project being carried out in collaboration with a research partner. One of the requirements is that the projects provide evidence of cooperation with one of Switzerland Innovation’s innovation parks.

Picture: Naturloop Team